Frenzied growth in real estate and changing lifestyle in Indian cities are inciting resource guzzling. Architects have innovative ideas to build green homes.

The teeming millions on foot and pedal are powering mobility in Indian cities. Their numbers exceed those who use cars. Yet they are victims of policy neglect. The result is high number of road accidents. Improving public transport systems and road design will encourage more people to walk and cycle. But are cities prepared to make this transition? There is a change of trend in certain pockets of India where communities are organising themselves to assert their right to walk and cycle. These zero carbon emitters have checked the country’s pollution from soaring.

Proposed fuel economy standards for cars are so lax that some car makers can get away by not doing anything for the first few years. This can jeopardise energy security and climate mitigation plans.

Proliferating diesel cars are a public health risk and drain the exchequer. The Union Budget of 2012-13 needs to take the urgent decision to tax diesel cars higher to prevent misuse of the under-taxed and under-priced fuel in cars. The government and the oil marketing companies cannot continue to shoulder the burden of subsidies and under recovery for luxury use. Increased use of diesel by cars will also increase public health risks.

This document contains the presentation by Anumita Roychowdhury of Centre for Science and Environment, at Second country media briefing on “Challenges of Air Quality and Mobility Management in South Asian cities” held in Colombo on 27 April 2011, jointly organized by CSE and TVE Asia Pacific.

The Union budget has announced its usual palliative for inclusive growth and aam aadmi. But the urban aam aadmi loses all.

Pre-budget discussions on misuse of subsidised diesel in cars has hit a crescendo. Public angst has already brought this to a boil. Political ire is also sharper this year, with Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh condemning the use of subsidised diesel in luxury SUVs as “criminal”.

It was a proud moment and a powerful statement when Dhaka rolled out a bedecked iconic cycle rickshaw on the opening day of the World Cup cricket. This is perhaps the only capital city in our region that can boast of zero emission areas with majority walking or on cycle rickshaws. Yet cars, only 10 per cent of all wheeled trips, bring this city to a grinding halt daily – traffic jams are as bad as we see in the worst of times in Delhi.

Natural gas vehicles: Opportunity for public health, energy and environmental security in our region - a presentation by Anumita Roychowdhury, Centre for Science and Environment at experience sharing dialogue on “Improving quality and performance of natural gas vehicle programme in South Asia” on 20 January 2011 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Read the presentation:

Cities all over the world are trying to ease congestion on roads , check car population to free their road space and this latest special report in Down To Earth finds out where India is headed and what lessons can the country learn from them.